The climate change phenomenon has made us more happy and less concerned about long-term dangers like global warming. It could be too late to wake up and confront reality. Human nature is to ignore potential future dangers and unpleasant events, even when things are going well. Two scientists from Duke University and New York University warn us that weather conditions are likely to worsen over the next century. The researchers stated that the global climate crisis and the terrible consequences it could bring, such as flooding cities around the globe, may be too late for people to demand effective policies to combat global warming. New Yorkers enjoy the sun in Central Park. (left) Since the 1970s our weather has become more pleasant with milder winters and cooler summers. This is making it easy to forget about what might happen by the end this century, e.g. New York could be flooded by seawater, if global warming is not stopped. The weather has become better since 1970s. Megan Mullin (an associate professor at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment) and Patrick J. Egan (an associate professor) from New York University’s Wilf Family Department of Politics were the ones who conducted an analysis. They found that 80 percent of Americans live in areas where the weather is more pleasant in the last four decades. The 1970s show that winter temperatures have increased in the United States, but summers are not becoming more unpleasant. The authors stated that most Americans are now enjoying more pleasant year-round temperatures. Professor Egan stated that rising temperatures were a sign of climate change. However, Americans have experienced them in times when it is more pleasant. Average winter temperatures have increased in all 50 states since 1970.. The map below shows the rate at which each state is warming over the past decade. Image: Climatecentral.org. Professors Egan & Mullin noticed a shift in the patterns and used their long-term climate-change projections as a way to predict what future weather conditions Americans will experience. Nearly everyone will experience worse weather by 2099 According to their estimates, almost 90% Americans will likely have weather that’s less pleasant than the weather they enjoy today and in the past. Professor Mullin stated that weather patterns have not been an important factor in Americans’ desire to fight climate change. Four years ago the pair conducted a study which found that people believe that global warming is temporary. Results of the 2012 study were published in The Journal of Politics. It found that those who lived in areas with higher than normal temperatures at interview were more inclined to believe that there is compelling evidence of global warming. Some parts of the globe are experiencing hotter summers than those in the US. The image was taken in India and shows the drastic changes that hot summers, combined with a string of droughts, are causing to large areas of rural India. (Image: thetimesinplainenglish.com) This study took a broader approach In this latest study, the two researchers took a broader approach to understanding weather patterns – and how the US population experiences them. The researchers analyzed 40 year’s worth of data, 1974 through 2013. This was done to assess how Americans’ experiences with weather have changed since the beginning of the climate change debate. Over this 40-year period, they found that Americans experienced an average 1. 04degF (0. 58degC) increase in January maximum temperatures per decade, compared to a 0. 13degF (0. 07degC) per decade increase in July. Summers are almost unchanged, but they’ve become much more humid. It is hard to imagine anyone complaining if the winters become much hotter, but summer remains relatively stable in temperature and more humid. Egan and Mullin wanted to determine how Americans had been measuring these changes. Researchers who looked at the role of weather in the growth and decline in Sun Belt populations in the Midwest, Northeast and Midwest were used by the researchers. These findings were used to create a measure of average US citizens’ preferences for weather. Weather Preference Index (WPI) This WPI (Weather Preference Index), reflects Americans’ preference for warmer summer temperatures, and more humid and cool summers. WPI also considers people’s preference for precipitation. According to the authors, WPI scores increased in the 80% US counties since the 1970s. But future projections and WPI scores show a starkly different picture. Models of climate change predict that summer temperatures will rise faster than winter under any future levels. These projections were used by Professors Egan & Mullin to calculate that WPI scores would fall to a level where 88% Americans will have less pleasant weather than they had over the last four decades. Citation: Megan Mullin and Patrick J. Egan, “Recent improvements in weather conditions in the United States.” Nature 532, 357-360. 21 April 2016). DOI: 10.1038/nature17441. Video: What happens if the earth heats up by 2 degrees Celsius? The global temperature rise should be limited to two degrees Celsius. What will happen if the global temperature rises by 2 degrees Celsius?
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